INTO THE FRAY: Israel Victory Initiative – Quo vadis?

By Martin Sherman, IISS

It is unrealistic to expect that the Palestinians will experience a sudden “aha moment”, slap their forehead in epiphanic realization of the futility of their Judeocidal endeavors—and, of their own volition, docilely declare defeat

“… what is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory. Victory at all costs—Victory in spite of all terror—Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.” – Winston Churchill, House of Commons, May 13, 1940.

As readers who follow this column will know, I have been a keen supporter of the Israel Victory Project (IVP) – see (here, here, and here), initiated by the Middle East Forum, and its president, Daniel Pipes.

Launched in the Fall of 2016, it was, to my mind, potentially one of the most important intellectual initiatives regarding the bloody, and seemingly intractable, conflict between Jews and Arabs for control of the Holy Land—and which, if it could impact Israeli policy, might well induce a much needed paradigmatic shift in the formulation and conduct of that policy.

At the heart of the IVP is the commendable recognition that the policy of unending concessions towards the Palestinian-Arabs has not only failed to achieve its goal of bringing peace and stability, but has, in fact, exacerbated the situation, making the chances of ending the conflict even more remote. Accordingly, peace, genuine and lasting, can only be attained if the Palestinian-Arabs acknowledge that they have failed in their quest to destroy the Jewish State and permanently relinquish their endeavor to do so.

For this to occur, Pipes himself stipulates that: “Palestinians will have to pass through the bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair as they repudiate the filthy legacy of Amin al-Husseini and acknowledge their century-long error.” 

In principle, this is a position with which I heartily concur. Indeed, it largely reflects the prescription I have long advocated—for more than a decade and half—when I chastisedthe total futility of the Israeli government’s current policy towards the Palestinian violence”.

Since its launch two years ago, the IVP has, by means of a range of promotional events, succeeded in building laudable public awareness for the initiative, both in Israel and the US. However, judging by Israel’s reticent responses to the continuing violence along the Gaza border, the essence of the Victory concept appears to have made little inroads into the thinking of Israeli policy-makers—and even less into their consequent actions.

“Victory” cannot be all things to all people

On Wednesday evening, I attended the second IVP Conference in Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center, in which various aspects of, and perspectives on, the project were discussed and the progress, that has been achieved in promoting it, was presented.

I came away with a sense of unease and the distinct impression that an invaluable idea was being dangerously diluted in an attempt to make it seemingly sufficiently inclusive and accommodative in order to embrace a wide range of existing political credos and to avoid alienating potential critics.

In this regard, Pipes has been scrupulously and purposefully “policy agnostic”, studiously avoiding backing any of the specific action-oriented prescriptions.

Admittedly, I understand Pipes’s stated desire to make the idea of “‘Israel Victory’ as palatable as possible”, so as to render it to “appealing to a wide swathe of Americans”.

Likewise, I see his logic in distinguishing between the more conceptual objectives in the US arena and the inevitably more practical ones in the Israeli arena. He writes: “my goal is to change the foundation of U.S. policy, not to work out Israeli tactics… I am an American foreign policy analyst, not an Israeli colonel.”

While I might disagree with Pipes’s characterization of the Israeli challenges as “tactics” rather than “strategy”; and I while believe that they need to be addressed at levels far above the rank of “colonel”, I can accept the “division of labor” to which he alludes: In the US arena, the objective is to create a political climate that will permit Israel to fully implement a Victory-compliant policy; while in Israel, the objective is to formulate that Victory-compliant policy itself.

But such well-intentioned agnostics can only go so far. After all, “Victory” cannot be all things to all people.

Palestinians must suffer the “bitter crucible of defeat”

Clearly, policy prescriptions that were compatible with the previous pre-Victory, pro-concessions perspective are far less likely to be compliant with the pro-Victory ones (entailing subjecting the Palestinian-Arabs to Pipes’s prescribed “bitter crucible of defeat, with all its deprivation, destruction, and despair”.

Indeed, the very concept of victory of one side in any conflict–which unavoidably entails the defeat of the other opposing participants—clearly calls for the adoption of some form of coercion, which results in the imposition of the will of one (the victor) over the others (the vanquished).

After all, it is, of course, wildly naïve to believe that, somehow, through some yet-to-be specified process, the Palestinian-Arabs will, autogenically, morph into something they have not been for over 100 years and show little sign of doing so in any foreseeable future. Indeed, in recent years, developments in Palestinian-Arab society would appear to have made such a benign metamorphosis distinctly less likely.

Accordingly, it is clearly unrealistic to expect that the Palestinian-Arabs will experience a sudden “aha moment”, slap their forehead in epiphanic realization of the futility of their Judeocidal endeavors—and, of their own volition, docilely declare defeat.

Indeed, they would rather go and fly a kite…

This, of course, us brings up back to the nature of the coercive policy—and what has to be wrought on the Palestinian-Arabs for Israel to attain victory—and what the Palestinian-Arabs must be subjected to in order to concede defeat?

The question of casualties

In previous articles on the IVP, I have raised the question of how many casualties Israel would need to inflict on the Palestinian-Arabs to induce them to admit bona fide defeat. This, of course, immediately interfaces with the previously-mentioned conditions that need (or can) be created in the US to facilitate such punitive measures.

As a somber reminder — and a very rough yardstick — in the 1948 War of Independence, Israel suffered over 6,000 fatalities and 15,000 wounded— around 1% and 2.5% respectively of the then-total Jewish population— without bringing about any thoughts of unconditional surrender.

Could Israel cause a commensurate number of Palestinian-Arab casualties — between 30,000-40,000 fatalities and over 100,000 wounded, depending on which demographic estimate one accepts — without incurring international censure and sanctions? Could Israel inflict such death and devastation without precipitating massive popular clamor for international — even military — intervention, across the Arab world and in other Islamic countries such as Turkey, Pakistan and Iran?

No less important, if this is the Victory-compliant strategy that Israel chose—or was compelled to choose—could the IVP in the US generate the political conditions to facilitate pursuit of such a policy?

Clearly this raises questions, which challenge the ability to remain indefinitely policy agnostic.

Post-Victory two-statism: What if…?

It also challenges the feasibility/validity of scenarios that envisage a sustainable two-state

Post-Victory reality—or indeed, any sustainable post-Victory scenario which allows for the continued presence of a large Palestinian-Arab population across the pre-1967 Green Line.

For if the kind of kinetic coercion required to sustainably subdue the Judeocidal impulses of the Palestinian-Arabs (as a collective) are unacceptable in the US and elsewhere, how is defeat to be inflicted on them or victory achieved by Israel?

This predicament is exacerbated by the fact that, unlike the oft-quoted examples of WWII, where Germany was not part of a larger Teutonic world, and Japan not part of a larger Nipponic world, the Palestinian-Arabs are of a larger hostile Arab/Muslim world—which can keep the embers of Judeocidal sentiment moldering, ready to burst into flames at some future moment.

Clearly, then, as long as a large Palestinian-Arab population remains resident in the areas across the pre-1967 lines, there will always be a tangible possibility that externally sourced insurgents and/or incitement will upend any post-Victory settlement. This, in turn, will require perennial Israeli surveillance and supervision to preemptively suppress any such threat, sowing the seeds of perennial Palestinian-Arab resentment…

Coerced into a state or coerced out of one?

So, what if to permanently break the Palestinian-Arabs Judeocidal urges requires kinetic coercion beyond the limits that  even a Trump administration is willing to condone? And what if, even if it did, the Palestinian-Arabs would always be subject to subversive influences from hostile elements from their kinfolk in the wider Arab/Muslim world?

Somber prudence and sheer logic—as opposed to well-intentioned hope—would seem to mitigate towards the only other alternative Victory-compliant strategy that can result in a sustainable post-Victory reality: The physical relocation of the Palestinian-Arab population in third-party countries—preferably by use of non-kinetic means, such as economic inducements by setting up a comprehensive system of generous material incentives for leaving and daunting material disincentives for staying.

As I have discussed in great detail the political feasibility, moral acceptability, and economic affordability of this Victory-compliant paradigm elsewhere, I will not delve into these important issues here.

However, given past precedents, prevailing present realities and plausible projections for the future, the only policy prescription that can generate sustainable stability in any probable post-Victory reality—with acceptable levels of kinetic coercion—is that of incentivized emigration of Palestinian-Arabs (The Humanitarian Paradigm).

Indeed, in light of the preceding analysis, it would be clearly preferable to coerce the Palestinian-Arabs out of a state rather than to coerce them into one.

Neither policy agnostics nor purported pro-Victory two-staters can ignore this!

I would therefore urge the IVP team to forego its hitherto policy agnostics and embrace policy specifics; to progress from the conceptual to the operational; to advance from generic declarations of goodwill to promotion of actionable policy prescriptions, to move on from action and instead, opt for direction…

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

July 5, 2018 | 17 Comments » | 968 views

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17 Comments / 17 Comments

  1. I think Daniel Pipes has done Israel’s pundits a service. Like Martin Sherman, I do not expect the Palestinians to have an “Aha!” moment. Israel truly must DO what it takes to ensure victory on the ground, i.e. physically crush the PA and remove it from a position of power and influence. What Pipes has done will not move the Palestinians in any such direction; but if it can change the attitudes of Israeli and American leaders, then those leaders will do the things needed to bring about the change.

    In the Army, my martial-arts instructor explained why in taking a man down, you just need to get hold of his head, because,

    “Where the head goes, the body should follow, or so the reasoning goes”.

    Pipes has gone for our heads.

  2. Victory is the correct concept. In order to achieve actual victory one must destroy PA/PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc and and supporting terrorists.

    1. Apply Israeli Civil Law to all Jewish Towns. State that Israel reserves the right to apply Israeli Civil Law to anywhere else in Judea/Samaria.

    2. Build in all of Judea and.Samaria. Focus on E1, the Jordan Valley, Gush Etzion to start.

    3. After destroying the terrorist groups. Take over and administer the Arab PA Cities and surrounding villages. Any villages or cities that turn violence will be closed off and workers will not be allowed to exit to work in Israel.

    4. Form an NGO to buy Palestinian Properties in Jerusalem and elsewhere in Judea/Samaria starting with Area C in villages next to Jewish Towns. Resell these properties to Jews and recycle the money to buy more Arab owned properties.

    5. Form a different NGO to help Arabs quickly move to other countries. Provide financial incentives to help them go. Make sure they receive their funds when it is confirmed they are leaving.

    6. Residency for Arabs in new areas where Israeli Civil Law is applied shall only be possible after a vetting process which determines they are not a security risk.

    They will need to demonstrate loyalty to the Jewish Democratic State of Israel.
    This will require learning Hebrew; your children will be required to provide civil national service at age 18 to 20.

    Arab residents will be required to inform on anyone planning terrorist acts including family members. This will be a condition of residency!

  3. No doubt everybody is correct in their desire for a smashing permanent victory. But the core is at least intractable, and most likely impossible to permanently achieve. It could have been done a dozen times in the past years. But what comes next…?? A peaceful settling down of subjugated Muslims…. No, it will remain a running sore.

    The only solution is that the Arabs be cleared out of the country altogether, which will mean that the IDF will need to defend from outside pressures, instead of the perpetual pressures from inside as well.

    We’re not dealing with a “legacy” of Haj Amin, we’re dealing with the implacable, eternally homicidal 7th century dictums (and accretions) of Muhammed’s “benevolent strictures” placed on the Jews.

    El Husseini was only the fortuitous vehicle by which the Muslims were made aware of their potential power, though the credulous stupidity of the newly appointed High Commissioner Herbert Samuel, himself a non-religious Jew but a strong Zionist, , He, to get off to a “good start” with the Arabs, appointed Haj Amin El Husseini to be The Grand Mufti Of Jerusalem,..which gave him de facto rule of all the Arabs in Palestine..

    Samuel’s 5 year tenure was marked by his open even handedness which antagonised the Arabs…naturally, and some Jews, to a lesser extent. He put barriers in the way of unfettered Jewish expansion. His successor, Lord Plumer, although not a politician, or perhaps because he was not, was a far better administrator.

    Samuels auto-biography is self-serving and exculpatory. Perhaps being the first to assume this newly made position, with no precedents to follow, was not easy.

    I agree with the reading that Pipes is trying to placate all, and that this particular problem is not amenable to such an attempt. One important thing this article brings up is the casualties figure needed so as to achieve total victory. I believe that this figure is proportionally crafted to the Israeli casualties suffered in our War of Independence.
    I feel that this figure is used as an example only, and not realistic.

    To achieve such figures requires at least some set battles against an organised foe. The local Arabs lack the temperament and capability.. And I doubt if anything close such a large number would be needed to achieve the crushing victories advocated.

    More important would be the attitude, and manner of the IDF, such as relentlessly harrying defeated Arabs, Perhaps surrounding and destroying all but the last few, a couple of times. Martial Law of severity. Whatever is needed to show that the old, benevolent over-scrupulous limited IDF conduct is no more. The very minor action of Deir Yassin did more to clear Arabs from the country than almost anything else. Imagination and mortal fear combined.

    Nothing would aid the incentivised emigration the author envisages, more than the realisation that there is NO future for Arabs in YESHA. I would like to include the Israeli Arabs too, because they are always a potentially hostile large minority, but……

  4. Guess there is no muzy word for defeat, even in defeat they cilibrate as a victory. Why? Because they had what ISRAEL’S leader’s no longer have, the nuts to have a go. Scary you can be sure any time they win an area it will be no prisoners. The thirst for blood is to great.

  5. There are two factors at play in what I will propose (although it is just a tongue-in-cheek proposal.

    The first factor is the “bleeding heart” sympathy for the underdog. Think back to the time of partition, whom were the underdogs, and whom gained the sympathy of the people and the nations? The Jews, of course, emerging from the horrors of the Holocaust, why would it be any diferent? It allowed for the United Nations to call for a “Home for the Jews”. Ah, but the sympathies have found a new place, the poor “imprisoned” (Gazans) and the poor “occupied” (West Bank Palestinians), and the poor Palestinian “refugees” incarcerated in the camps wherever. After all, sympathy for refugees is universal, is it not? Think of Merkel and the havoc she is bringing upon her own people, but does she care about what her own peole are enduring? Think about the progressives, the liberals, the Democrats in the USA and their sympathy for the refugees from south of the American border. How do we win them over, when they are on the side of the underdog? Israel is no underdog, it is a powerful “represser” according to the mainstream media and the leftists around the world.

    The second factor is anti-Semitism, and what is obvious is the patent anti-Semitism that crops up around the world, obvious and open, but it is only the tip of the iceberg, because what is not obvious is the latent anti-Semitism (the quiet Gentleman’s Agreement”) that is under the waterline. Do I know about anti-Semitism? Was I not one of the three Jews who attended a Public School in Canada and suffered being beaten up by rough bullies?, and when I complained to the principal he slapped my palm with a ruler for being a “snitch”? Do I not remember wanting to ski and the only place where there was a ski tow had a sign in front of the club that actually said “No dogs or Jews Allowed”, or the Jewish community where I lived had to buy land and create its own golf club because all the local ones would not permit Jews to be members. I have been well educated about anti-Semitism, and although the tip of the iceberg may be smaller today, and often disguised by Israel-bashing, the bulk under the waterline is just as big, and Israel gives more potential for it to increase.

    So those are the two factors. Now, let’s talk about the first one, because nothing will change the second. Since the bleeding heart progressives, the liberals the leftists champion the underdog – in order for Israel to win them over, it must become the underdog – give up the fight, lay down the IDF arms and tear down the walls and fences – allow for the deluge, a second Holocaust, and then MAYBE the world will feel sympathetic towards the Jews, IF the world is capable of overcoming its patent and latent anti-Semitism.

    There it is, a “modest proposal” that will horrify most of us, but then, in my opinion, it’s the only way for Israel to gain the sympathy and support of the rest of the world, maybe even the United Nations, because all the conceptualized methods that are proposed will not change the status quo. How many years have we tried with no success? How many more years will be needed. We need a “Gort” from “The Day The Earth Stood Still” to visit the Earth before there will be a change.

  6. @ Buzz of the Orient:

    I don’t believe that the UN called for a “home for the Jews because of the Holocaust”.

    Because of Weitzman’s urging, by phone to Ben Gurion, (who wanted to hold off declaring the State) , that the State be declared immediately, it was; at 4 p.m. on May 14th 1948, The League of Nations Mandate did not expire until midnight the same day.May 14th. So the actual State owed it’s origin to the dividing plans pursued during the 1930s under the Mandate..

    UN General Assembly decisions are only recommendation, or proposals. Like the Mandatory 1930s proposals, in Nov.1947 it recommended Partition, carried by 33 votes to f3. Perhaps the UN was carrying out…. ..partly, it’s undertaking to assume ALL valid agreements of the League of Nations when it was founded in 1945.

    I don’t know of any reputable historians who would say that Israel owes it’s existence to the Holocaust. it is Israel’s Anti-Semitic enemies who say that, and are echoed by those who are totally ignorant of the subject, and follow the herd..


    There is only the one solution and that is to replace the world capitalist system with a world socialist commonwealth in which two things are married together. The world madness of anarchic economics is regulated (we have a world economy) while at the same time the maximum in national sovereignty is created and ensured.

    Israpundit is a Jewish capitalist loving site so that is ruled out. We are coming to a crunch point on this.

    Martin Sherman falls into the same bracket but the very least that you can say about him is that he stays totally clear of the above. So he opposes what I say above.

    The socialist revolution is not as far away as some think. In fact it is very close. But there is another possibility WHICH IS ALSO VERY CLOSE and that is the capitalist counter revolution.

    The Trump movement strives for national sovereignty but from within capitalism. I understand that and Trump never said he would be different. But his rightful striving for national sovereignty has meant the capitalist state of America (in many ways) moving against him, and the result of that moving against him by big forces in America threatens counter revolution, with strong Fascist features. The whole process in America is easily summed up. Massive forces did not accept the result of the 2016 November democratic election. This is close to Fascism. All Fascism lacks is leadership as in a Hitler, Franco or Mussolini.

    In fact the “Palestinians”, really the Arabs in Palestine, are Fascists in every sense of the term. Even the recent bare facts show this…The takeover by Hamas in Gaza produces NO elections. The PLO has moved in the direction of NO elections. And the Jew Hatred akin to the Nazis finds always “creative” initiatives.

    And as noted it is this which is adored by so many in the world. We know that too well but few have even started to analyse why? There is of course the constant propaganda of governments and media, media like the BBC. But all of that falls on a ground which is reponsive to making these Fascists of the “Palestinians” into international heroes, and to the Jews and Israel into pariahs.

    So there are things happening here which are not being understood. The reason that many people fasten on to the Palestinians as heroes is connected with reasons which lie deep;y in psychology, and is akin to the Germans seeking in Hitler their reassurance of being alive in this (to them utterly meaningless) material world. Indeed…As the economic outlook for the individual becomes more problematic their support for the “Palestinians”, an abstract concept, increases. That is what is happening. I agree here with Edgar, the situation facing the Jews is serious and very threatening, and none of these “prescriptions” are solving or will sove it.

    Most of the comments on Israpundit to articles like this are made up of a list of things that Israel must do. This is normal, a form of psychological self therapy. It comforts the giver but does not deal with basic questions.

    One of these in this case from the standpoint of what I have written above is why was Martin Sherman interested in Daniel Pipes in the first place? Pipes is a very intelligent writer on world and American issues so his viewpoint is also and always valuable. But he defends a system which is the antithesis of the creation of countries being sovereign. He sees it as “normal” that America rules the waves. He sees it as “normal” that Trump should have a “plan” for peace between Arab and Jew.

    Britain became the caretaker of a good idea, which was the essence of The Balfour Declarion, that Palestine should be set aside as the Homeland of the Jewish People. But Britain was also an Imperialist country and with Balfour eclipsed by antisemitic Tory colleagues, the revision of Balfour was carried out by who do you think, that great hero of Martin Gilbert, Winston Churchill. With great cunning he said no it (The Balfour Declaration and subsequent Versailles understandings) said that the Jewish Homeland would be IN Palestine. The first idea was good. Then came the interference in sovereign affairs. That is in the sovereign affairs of the Jewish nation. This Imperialist interference int he shape of Churchill created a disaster.

    In the overall course of history Jews have Israel today because of the fact that the Jews have held themselves as a NATION. Through all kinds of diversity over very many centuries. That would of course have been impossible without all of the qualities of nation. HG Wells put it best when he said the Jews came back from captivity in Babylon with their “Book”, that is with a new consciousness of themselves as a people.

    I know what I am talking about here. I was brought up in a house build of stone and weak mortar, thatched with straw cut with a scythe, about 1820, and six of the seven children of that family from that very house left the emerald isle in coffin boats from 1845 to 1847 to end up in America. The oldest son carried on the struggle for existence. That is my existence. All nations have this. But the intrusion on national sovereignty caused by capitalism (a necessary stage) morphed into imperialism is intolerable. THAT is the problem. Israel and Jews must be sovereign. Undo Churchill. Reject the Trump intrusion no matter how friendly and indeed the fact that I am a person who also declares I sympathize with him. Act!

    But act how? i will finish by asking one question…when ever in along history of writing did either Martin Sherman or Ted Belman ever make a quote from Leon Trotsky? Never except in the most hostile and not educative manner. That is the essence.

  8. The question, however, is one of timing. As somebody, I forget who, maybe Caroline Glick, pointed out, Hamas is Iran’s proxy. As Israel attacks Iranian positions in Syria, forcing them to retreat, Iran funds and organizes Hamas provocations from Gaza in an attempt to provoke Israel into committing too many forces on too many fronts at once. If time is on Israel’s side, then the current policy makes sense.

  9. Why does Sherman write this way…it is exhausting.
    It is unrealistic to expect that the Palestinians will experience a sudden “aha moment”, slap their forehead in epiphanic realization of the futility of their Judeocidal endeavors—and, of their own volition, docilely declare defeat.
    “epiphanic realization…” Is this a college class where you are expected to display mastery of a large vocabulary or is there a number of words required to get into israpundit?

  10. @ Felix Quigley:
    Clearly, Trotsky believed that the solution was to promote homosexuality among the youth as in the following passage: “…In a society which will have thrown off the pinching and stultifying worry about one’s daily bread, in which community restaurants will prepare good, wholesome and tasteful food for all to choose, in which communal laundries will wash clean everyone’s good linen, in which children, all the children, will be well-fed and strong and gay…”

  11. @ greenrobot:

    Yes it’s on-going perpetual competition, to use the most words to express the least innovative. Martin wins hands down every time. He’s the Best.

    it’s called rather vulgarly..”re-hashing over”……..

  12. @ Edgar G.:
    Bravo, Edgar! great word. Tenks. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if “Professors” were to go onto interview shows and use vocabulary the interviewer didn’t have and then explain using other vocabulary the interviewer didn’t have. The audience could google it but the interviewer wouldn’t have time. There’s a scene like that at the end of “The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse,” which one can watch instantly for $2.99, from youtube, with Edward G. Robinson. 1938. Funniest courtroom scene I know.

  13. @ Sebastien Zorn:

    Yes I remember seeing that movie. It wa damned good as all Edward g’s movies were. He was a consummate actor capable of converting to any part. When I was 4-5-6 years old I was seeing him in excellent gangster roles, I was a very early film-goer.

    As for the “Into the Bray” articles, I enjoy them, and I suppose only a Senior Professor of English Lit. specialising in Semantics and Tautology, can match up to our champion. It’s all in good fun, which we need occasionally.

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